Tasty Treats that Keep Your Pet Healthy
September 20, 2010 -
Saturday night I made the classic Pet Parent mistake of walking across the floor without turning on the lights. Walking through the dark barefoot almost guarantees an injury and I ended up stepping on the shards of a destroyed rawhide. Being only half awake, my thoughts went from “Ow, what the heck” to “what’s in that thing” and finishing on “I should organize the pantry.” If I had been thinking in complete thoughts, it would have sounded more like this “Ow, what the heck was that? Wow, China destroyed that rawhide. I wonder what that rawhide consists of? I should get her a new one from the pantry. Ugh, the pantry is a mess and needs to be organized.” Ultimately, the “what rawhide consists of” question stuck with me and I ended up sitting on my kitchen floor reading treat labels and thinking about the healthy benefits of giving pets edible treats. (Yes, I do need to get out more.)
The treat that so rudely awakened me was a rawhide and according to the American Veterinary Dental Society, rawhide helps scrape away plaque, control tartar buildup, and maintain healthy gums. This helps “diminish bad breath, keeps teeth whiter and reduces the risk of potentially serious dental problems.” China’s rawhide of choice is Dentley's Compressed Rawhide Rolls which she loves to chew right before bedtime. I like to think of it as the doggie equivalent of brushing one’s teeth before bed.
China’s other treat of choice is Nutro Natural Choice Senior Dog Biscuits. Even though China is only two years old, I know that large dogs are prone to joint problems. The Nutro biscuits contain glucosamine and chondroitin, which are normally found around cartilage cells. According to the National Institute for Health “glucosamine is an amino sugar that the body produces and distributes in cartilage and other connective tissue, and chondroitin sulfate is a complex carbohydrate that helps cartilage retain water.” These supplements are often used to help humans with osteoarthritis and can help animals with stiff joints.
Lucy’s favorite treat is Polly’s Cactus Snack with Peanuts. The peanuts are held in mineral clay similar to the claylick that birds ingest in the wild (most famously in Peru). According to Jared Diamond, professor of geography and physiology at UCLA, noted that parrots “regularly eat seeds and unripe fruits whose content of alkaloids and other toxins renders them bitter and even lethal to humans and other animals. Because many of these chemicals are positively charged in the acidic conditions found in the stomach, they bind to clay minerals.” The clay also contains calcium and sodium which that help birds survive in the wild. For many birds this seems to be an instinctive nature to seek out minerals.
When I think about my college roommate’s cats, the word that comes to mind is hairballs. Hairballs are caused when a cat swallows loose hair during his daily grooming and can cause the hacking, choking sound we associate with a cat trying to dislodge the clump from his throat. Many cat treats contain petrolatum to help lubricate a cat’s digestive tract and prevent hairballs from forming such as Friskies Hairball Remedy Cat Treats
Dental treats for cats can assist with decreasing tartar build-up between professional cleaning and lower bad breath!
All pets like treats! Freeze-dried brine shrimp or bloodworms offer ways to increase natural algae and decrease the risk of bacteria in your aquarium. Hamsters, gerbils, and guinea pigs love chewing on wooden treats like T-Rex Tasty Twigs to help keep teeth trimmed and healthy.
Healthy treats make for a healthy pet and pet parent!
Does your pet have a favorite healthy treat? Tell us about it!
American Veterinary Dental Society http://www.avds-online.org/
National Institute for Health http://nccam.nih.gov/research/results/gait/qa.htm#b2
Dr. Jared Diamond http://www.physiology.ucla.edu/faculty/diamond.shtml
Clay Minerals http://www.eytonsearth.org/clay-use-primitives.php